The Straits Times
Published on Oct 09, 2012

Dreaming up Sandman for Rise of the Guardians


GLENDALE, California (AP) - Within the dimly lit halls of DreamWorks Animation, past the character sketches lining the walls, inside the eccentrically decorated cubicles and offices is where a group of designers, animators and special effects gurus have spent the past four years bringing life to the Sandman.

The dream-inducing folkloric figure, whose roots sprouted from European fairytales, is among the immortal icons featured in the 3-D computer-generated fantasy tale Rise of the Guardians, based on William Joyce's charming book series, The Guardians of Childhood.

The bubbly Buddha-like appearance of the film's Sandman, is remarkably faithful to Joyce's illustrations. Yet creating a three-dimensional, wispy-haired Sandman with oh-so-magical powers provided several technical challenges that many of DreamWorks' animation pros had never tackled.

"He is a very different kind of character," said production designer Patrick Hanenberger of the character probably best known from Pat Ballard's timeless 1954 song. "He is short. He is round. His body looks like it is made out of marzipan, and his hair looks like cotton candy. He is not someone who looks like he is as powerful as he is in our story, but he is the most magical of all the Guardians - and he does not speak."